I am sat in a meeting and I am having to endure a colleague droning on about his ideas for increasing market share. He is stood at the front of the room holding everybody’s attention. I am not enjoying this. I feel unsettled and slightly queasy knowing that people are listening to what he has to say and not paying me any heed. I can hear the whispers from my personal tormentor as she reminds me of how nobody is looking to me. I fight the urge to hurl a laptop though the plate-glass screen behind me in order to create some drama, but it is hard. If the Chief Executive was not sat two seats away to my left I may well have done it. With him there however I need to focus on my A game. I write that my colleague has everyone’s attention. That is not true. Well, almost everybody’s attention. He does not have my full attention. Fortunately for me, I am able to triple track and I am listening to his dull diatribe, whilst I formulate my questions for him and I am always casting occasional glances at the recently promoted Lucy who is sat directly across the boardroom table from me. I have spoken to her a few times but her recent elevation makes her of greater interest to me. Her recent success has grabbed my attention. I like to be surrounded by the successful, just so long as they are not more successful than me. Very few are, I always identify some of their faults and weaknesses, it is a skill I possess. I glance down and tap in a text message to Lucy.
“I like your blouse, is it T M Lewin?” and send it to her. I see her move slightly as her ‘phone vibrates in her pocket and her eyes catches mine (again). I cock my head indicating for her to check her pocket. She gives me a slightly quizzical look but the smile is there and her arm moves indicating that she has reached for her mobile. She looks down and I wait, feeling slight surge inside of me as I wonder what she will write in reply.Notice how I know that she will reply. That is not in question. I see her head remain looking downwards and after a few seconds my phone vibrates in my hand as she replies.
“Yes it is, thanks for noticing. Great tie by the way x”
She is right about the tie and I notice the kiss. The door is open. I feel the satisfying surge of power at having acquired her attention and simultaneously revel in the fact that now two of us are not paying full attention to Monroe as he stands pontificating and spouting his corporate claptrap. The moron. The texts ping back and forth between Lucy and I as we exchange mutual compliments and my charm begins to have its effect on her. The whispering ghost has not been silenced as she continues to mutter in my ear, trying to point out that more people are listening to Monroe than are paying attention to me and that is because I am insignificant and uninteresting. I have this battle on a daily basis. The never-ending tug of war between my own personal tormentors who seek to paralyse me with fear and self-loathing and my need to keep them at bay as I drink deep from the fuel that I find around me. I look up and see that Lucy, beautiful, sensual Lucy is texting again but what is that over her shoulder? There in the window that overlooks the city beyond I see a reflection. It is a thin-faced, leering and insipid looking thing. The creature is back trying to unsettle me and unnerve me, His wan smile plays about those thin lips and he begins mouthing something at me. I do not try to decipher it as the phone buzzes and I smile at Lucy’s response.
“HG, what is your view on that point?” asks Monroe. I can tell from his tone that he is both irritated and sensing the opportunity to point score. He has noticed that Lucy and me have apparently disengaged from his presentation and this has got under his skin. That is good. I can feel the flames rising inside and then they surge higher as faces turn to me. Monroe thinks that he is going to show me up. He thinks I have not been listening. You have under-estimated me again you dough-faced cookie cutter. You are not equipped to deal with the likes of me and whilst I have been texting Lucy I have continued to listen to his words. That is the skill I have and he does not. That is why I am soon to be promoted again, leaving him in my wake. I purposefully do not reply immediately as I finish the text to Lucy and fire it off. I look up and fix my gaze on Monroe, who I notice has unbuttoned his top button behind his tie, not professional or smart Monroe when you are addressing us. I can see from the position of his mouth that he is waiting to add some sardonic comment. He thinks my hesitation in answering is a mark of having caught me out. He is wrong. I am savouring having everyone’s attention on me. He is on the side of my tormentors wanting to do me down. His face seems to shift as it becomes the creature that stalks me, but it is not working. I smile and fire back my carefully constructed point in a succinct sentence. The creature fades leaving the panicked expression of Monroe as the forensic brilliance of my comment hits home.
“An excellent point, ” adds our Chief Executive and I cannot help but smile as the power rages through me. There are murmurs of assent as the lily-livered hangers-on around the table curry favour by supporting the Chief Exec’s appreciation of my point. I do not care for their flip-flopping since it has given me further attention. As Monroe hesitates I throw another verbal grenade at him. Foolishly, he catches it and it explodes in his face as the Chief Exec presses him to respond to my point. I look to Lucy and she is returning my gaze with admiration writ large. My phone buzzes and I look down
“Yes drinks at 6pm will be great, I will come to your office first x’
Another surge and the whispering ghost has been silenced. The beast tries over and over again to drag me into the abyss but so long as I draw breath I have the means and the skills to tame it. My destruction of Monroe who has now gone bright red as he stammers an ineffectual response and the knowledge that I will be with Lucy this evening, in a bar of colleagues who will be all congratulating me on my performance today fills me with an amazing sense of strength and power. Perhaps I will win this war with the creature within after all?